Wood pellets are becoming a wide-spread fuel source for people’s smoker grills, stoves and heaters, and many other appliances.
But, do wood pellets contain chemicals?
If made per industry standards, by compressing only sawdust, woodchips, and whole trees, wood pellets don’t contain any chemicals and generally are not toxic.
What You Need To Know
Carbon Monoxide Emission
Keep in mind that even though there are no chemicals in quality pellets, the process of burning them in a wood-pellet smoker does release carbon monoxide.
If you are exposed to this gas for long periods of time, you can experience harmful effects. These include developing various respiratory problems, so make sure to stand away from the line of smoke.
This is not the case, however, with stoves. All pellet stoves and heating systems have a high-efficiency rating, ensuring the pellets don’t emit any carbon monoxide. This is great news if you want to use them for heating.
There are reports that people who live close to the pellet mills experience respiratory issues, even developing asthma due to breathing in fumes produced by pellet manufacturing. In this case, we can only advise that you don’t purchase properties close to these mills and avoid them altogether.
What Are Food Grade Wood Pellets?
When it comes to pellet safety, we are generally talking about those pellets used to cook food.
As wood pellets are made only for use in stoves and heating, they are never to be used as grill pellets. Indeed, quality wood pellets don’t have any chemicals, but low-grade pellets you may buy for heating are toxic.
Food-grade pellets are manufactured specifically for use in grilling food, usually meat. This gives your meal a pleasant smoky taste.
Still, the same stands as for wood pellets; cheaper ones are dangerous.
Trusted Brands Vs. Cheap Pellets
As mentioned, the pellets are usually processed so that there is no need for any added chemicals. Big brands such as Camp Chef, Pit Boss, Lumber Jack, and Traeger are among the ones who make pellets in this safe way.
Of course, manufacturers sell cheaper pellets, and they achieve a lower price by using chemical binding agents and other additives. They may also add flavor enhancers for those pellets used in a smoker.
When these pellets burn, they release toxic fumes. You breathe these in, and your food becomes exposed to chemicals that are harmful to you. So, if possible, purchase pellets from high-quality brands.
Try These Food Safe Pellets
Apart from the mentioned dangers, which can both be easily avoided, there is one other hazard.
Wood pellets are made to be highly flammable; this means that even a small spark can set them off.
So, make sure you store them properly and avoid contact with any ignition sources, which will help lessen the fire hazard. Putting them in a cool and dry place, away from your main living area and kitchen, is the best way to go.
Yes, branded food-grade pellets can be expensive, but if you want to ensure no chemicals are seeping into your food and your lungs, the risks with purchasing cheap pellets should outweigh the pricing.
Further Reading: How Long Do Wood Pellets Last In A Smoker?